Space Debris 1957-2016

Stuart Grey (United Kingdom)

Galata Greek Primary School


“Objects on planetary scales and geological timescales are often thought to be beyond the reach of human design. In the last 60 years, however, the human race has designed, inadvertently, a monument on this scale… Millions of man-made objects are now in orbit around the Earth, with 20,000 or so large enough to be tracked by radar and telescopes on the ground. These objects range from satellites to empty fuel tanks, from shards of fractured metal to hand tools lost by astronauts… The objects closest to Earth will eventually slow down in the tenuous upper atmosphere and re-enter, burning up in all but the rarest cases. Objects in orbits higher than the farthest grasp of the atmosphere… will stay in their orbits for hundreds or even thousands of years; our own planetary scale monument.” –SG


Space Debris 1957–2016 is a two-minute animation video by Stuart Grey that visualizes the ever-expanding constellation of space debris that orbits our planet. The story begins with Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957. Every colorful dot in the video represents a large individual human-made object — all tied to their date and country of origin — that has been tracked from Earth. This ever-expanding cloud is the largest human design of all.